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Dell XPS 15 – Performance and battery life

By Michael Passingham



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Dell XPS 15 – Performance

My review unit came equipped with an Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor paired with 8GB of DDR4 memory. It’s a quad-core chip running at a base clock speed of 2.3GHz, boosting up to 3.2GHz when thermal conditions allow.

This isn’t the most powerful processor available with the XPS 15, but it’s a decent choice if your workload isn’t going to involve a huge amount of high-end media rendering.

The Dell XPS 15 scored well in our various synthetic benchmarks, achieving 3,187 in the Geekbench single-core benchmark, which measures a PC’s performance in short tasks that don't require a huge amount of computing power.

In the multi-core test, its slightly slower clock speed and lack of Hyper-Threading meant it fell some way short of the similarly priced Asus N552VW, which features a Core i7-6600HQ. The Dell scored 9,703 while the Asus managed 13,168. Dell XPS 15 9

I’d expect the Core i7 version of the Dell XPS 15 to score significantly closer to the Asus, although with its thinner chassis and tighter cooling demands I don’t imagine it would beat it.

In the graphics department, the Dell is equipped with a custom Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU, paired with 2GB of memory. In a larger laptop, this would be a force to be reckoned with. Here, however, it’s ever-so-slightly hamstrung. The Asus N552VW, which runs the same base chip, albeit with a different (and larger) cooler, scored consistently 10% to 25% better in the 3DMark Sky Diver and Cloud Gate benchmarks.

Playing XCOM 2, the numbers were similar. I recorded an average frame rate of between 24 and 27fps on the recommended High settings. Dropping to Medium settings yielded a decent improvement up to nearer 40fps. This isn't a dedicated gaming machine, but the presence of a decent graphics card means gaming is possible, as is 3D rendering and modelling.

Related: Best gaming laptop to buy in 2016

Dell XPS 15 – Camera and Microphone

Dell’s HD webcam is excellent. While it’s oddly placed, giving your video-chat partners a rather unflattering view of yourself, the quality of the video is great. The camera isn’t fooled by backlighting or low light, and therefore images suffer from minimum noise.

The microphones are good, if not great. They cancel office chatter and air conditioning well, but this does result in a slightly muffled overall sound. I'd recommend hooking up an external microphone if you’re going to be doing lots of chatting online.

Dell XPS 15 – Battery Life

Battery life is another area where the XPS 15 is slightly less competitive, but this can once again be put down to its svelte build. Dell reckons that the 56Wh battery will last for five hours. That claim appears to be accurate: working on documents and emails, I hit five hours before having to plug the system back into the mains.

Streaming from Netflix at half brightness, it consumed around 23% of its battery per hour. It’s a decent result when you consider this is a high-power laptop, and will easily make it through the brief periods you’re working on it away from your desk. It won’t match the likes of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, however, which squeezes a couple more hours of life from its cells.Dell XPS 15 1

Should I buy the Dell XPS 15?

Perhaps not this particular model, with its sluggish 5,400rpm hard disk. Instead, you should opt for one of the £1,149 machines, which comes equipped with a PCI Express-based SSD, or at the very least a model that also has a 32GB SSD cache. In return, system response, loading times and the general feel of Windows 10 will be far more sprightly.

You should also note that in terms of bang-for-buck, this machine isn't the best value laptop out there. Dell’s own Inspiron 15 is far cheaper with a similar specification, but it's heavier and a less desirable machine as a result. If build quality and portability are your primary concerns, though, the XPS 15 is a fantastic buy.

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It’s not cheap, but the XPS 15 looks great, feels fantastic and performs like a champion. Dell has produced the ultimate Windows 10 laptop. Apple should look over its shoulder.

Overall Score


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February 17, 2014, 4:04 pm

no numpad, no buy.


February 17, 2014, 9:24 pm

"The GT 750M is also used in one of Apple’s cheaper MacBook Pro configurations" -- surely you mean "one of the more expensive configurations" ? The Iris 5200 is the entry level...


February 17, 2014, 9:25 pm

are you an accountant or why do you need the numpad so badly? :) there's nothing wrong with being an accountant but then maybe this is not the laptop for you to begin with...


February 17, 2014, 9:29 pm

shame about the battery life, but all in all, a great laptop, and finally something from Dell that I want.
I would have loved to see more about how the various Windows apps scale on that gorgeous screen. From what I read some of them play nice, respecting the DPI settings you set in Windows, while others look impossibly small, borderline unusable


February 17, 2014, 10:00 pm

Engineer. I do lots of CAD, finite element analysis and coding. (requires decent graphics and processing power). A numpad is a huge bonus when you have rows of numbers to type in. (and yes I know you can buy a USB numpad, but I prefer one on the keyboard to begin with.)


February 17, 2014, 10:32 pm

Okay that makes sense. I'm an engineer myself (software engineer) but I do mostly Java/Scala coding which doesn't really require a numpad. In fact for me NOT having a numpad is better because the main part of the keyboard is centered with respect to the laptop itself which makes typing more... natural.

One last thing, if you do CAD you would probably be better served by the Precision M3800 (because of the Quadro graphics card), though that model doesn't come with a numpad as far as I know


February 18, 2014, 1:46 pm

Any hint for a Windows alternative for those "hard-nosed creatives who demand better gamut coverage and colour quality for precision colour work" ?


February 18, 2014, 1:51 pm

Can't guarantee it, but what do you actually need? Are we talking 100% Adobe RGB?


February 18, 2014, 2:24 pm

Lightweight laptop with good processing power, SSD storage, dedicated GPU and a display good enough to do photo post-processing work without having to go through it again on my workstation. 93% sRGB coverage just isn't good enough. I don't think there is such a thing as a laptop with 100% AdobeRGB coverage, but what I'm looking for seems just as rare.


February 18, 2014, 3:01 pm

Your right on most counts. 93% sRGB is very good for a laptop, but as you say not good enough for many uses.

Brian O'Neill

February 18, 2014, 4:21 pm

I have a dell xps 12. Generally dell have improved a lot in recent years. The HD screen is weird, I have perfect eyesight but even I needed to set app scaling to the maximum to make it usable. Most apps do obey the windows scaling, the only issue I have so far is with viber desktop.

Taj Nahal

April 4, 2014, 4:11 pm

I actually recently bought the XPS 15, and I just wanted people to know that there is a high-pitched hissing/scratching sound that comes up from the processor chip. This has actually been shown to be on all the XPS 15 and Dell has basically refused to acknowledge this problem. For a more detailed account, please feel free to refer to this forum on the Dell website:


Jim Dawkins

May 27, 2014, 7:44 am

Unless you play games Id rather get a good latitiude without the heat issues.


March 25, 2016, 11:48 am



March 26, 2016, 6:50 am

Amazing laptop but really spoiled by the motion blur issue. Even if you're watching a football match and the camera pans suddenly, you get a loss of focus and blurring. Dell need to source a better panel pretty quickly otherwise they're going to ruin sales/reputation of what would otherwise be the best laptop out there.

Marcus Philpott

April 27, 2016, 4:25 pm

Never ever buy a dell. Their customer service is non existent, and their tech service is awful. Today is exactly 4 months since my XPS13 broke. Dell have done nothing about it. Truly unbelievably bad customer service and non existant technical service. Dell, you make me sick!!! Try googling 'never buy dell'. They are widely hated!


June 30, 2016, 12:05 pm

Voici mon histoire avec DELL. Si vous souhaitez acheter un ordinateur DELL, ne le faite pas. Suivez mon conseil.
Je suis une cliente patiente et compréhensive, je suis la première a défendre les pauvres interlocuteurs du service après vente. Mais eux… c’est juste l’Incapabilité incarnée.

J’ai donc commandé un ordinateur DELL XPS15 9550 pour mon études en animation, 3D et graphisme. Il me le fallait rapidement pour pouvoir travailler sur mon mémoire qui demande un projet pratique. J’ai donc calculé pour l’avoir fin fevrier, debut mars pour pouvoir commencer à travailler. Sauf que…

Le probleme de l’ordinateur

24 fevrier : livraison de l'ordinateur. Après le 1er allumage, l'ordinateur s’éteint après quelques minutes. Le problème se répète a peu près tous les quarts d'heure. L’écran devient noir, le système se fige, obligation de l’éteindre à la manière forte en appuyant sur le bouton d'alimentation.
25 fevrier : 1er appel au service Dell à 9h05. Un technicien prend la main à distance sur mon ordinateur. Mise a jour du BIOS et des drivers, etc.
26 fevrier : 2eme appel à 10h20, suite et fin de l'intervention. Le problème est bien matériel. Demande qu'un technicien vienne changer la carte mère est passée.
29 fevrier : A 9h04, Le technicien qui devait passer ne peut pas venir car la pièce en question n'est pas disponible. Après que J'ai appelé le service Dell, je ne peux avoir de date précise quand la disponibilité de la carte mère.
3 mars : Rappel à 10h17 pour avoir des nouvelles quand à la pièce. Toujours pas de date, la technicienne me promet que si elle n'est pas disponible dans les 48h, on me changera l'ordinateur. Mais promesse considérée comme nulle car non inscrite dans le dossier. Elle promet aussi de me rappeler personnellement pour me tenir au courant, mais aucune nouvelle de sa part à ce jour.
4 mars : à 14h Rappel pour avoir des nouvelles de la pièce. Cette dernière n'est toujours pas disponible. Monsieur -responsable plus gradé- prend en charge le dossier. Et promet de me tenir au courant par mail au plus tard le 08 mars.
07 mars à 9h50 : Rappel de Dell pour avoir des nouvelles de la disponibilité de la pièce. On me signale qu'elle est en stock et qu'un technicien peut venir dans les 48h. A 10h30 un technicien peut venir passer. Il vient changer la carte mère de mon ordinateur NEUVE par une carte mère RECONDITIONNÉE. 10 minutes après son départ l'ordinateur se fige, l’écran reste allumé cette fois mais l'OS beug encore. J'appelle Dell, on me dit qu'un technicien prendra la main a distance de l’ordinateur mais personne ne se manifeste, malgré le fait que je reste a coté de la machine pendant TOUTE la soirée.
08 mars : Je signale que personne ne m'est venue en aide malgré la promesse d'intervention. A 12h10, Monsieur -responsable plus gradé- décide de procéder à un échange contre une nouvelle machine. Un devis est censé être envoyé dans les 48h.
10 mars à 22h28: Toujours pas de nouvelles malgré le fait que les 48h sont largement dépassées. Je le signale via mail.
14 mars à 9h33 : Rappel pour avoir des nouvelles du devis, cela fait bien plus de 48h que le délais est passé. Impossible d'avoir une date si ce n'est qu'il est censé m’être envoyé dans les 48h.
15 mars à 16h47 : Après réception du devis par -monsieur du service commercial- , je constate que la date de livraison est estimé à la fin du mois ,le 31 mars soit plus d'un mois après la livraison de mon ordinateur NEUF qui ne fonctionnait pas.
17h50 : Envoi de deux mails à -responsable plus gradé- & -monsieur du service commercial- pour des précisions sur le devis.
18 mars à10h21 : Monsieur -responsable plus gradé- répond a la majorité de mes questions. Mais une reste sans réponse car c’est -personne qui s'occupe des devis- qui est le plus a même d’y répondre (sur les délais de livraisons) Il me conseille aussi d’attendre la réponse de -monsieur du service commercial-.
21 mars à 12h38: N’ayant eu aucune réponses malgré mes nombreuses relances de la part de -monsieur du service commercial-, Je donne mon accord sur le devis pour que la production de l’ordinateur soit lancé et que la livraison ne soit pas trop retardée malgré ma question non répondue. L’e-mail est envoyé à -monsieur du service commercial- avec Monsieur -responsable plus gradé- en copie.
À 14h44 : Je reçois un accusé de reception de la commande de la part de -personne qui s'occupe des devis-
31 mars : 1ere date de livraison estimée lors de l’envoi du devis
06 Avril : Date de livraison estimée lors de la reception de l’accusée de commande.

Le probleme du geste commercial, et de DELL en général

Par la suite j’ai du me battre pour avoir un geste commercial.
Ils m’ont plusieurs fois dit qu’ils ont gracieusement ralongé ma garantie de deux mois, comme je n’ai pas pu l’utiliser… Encore heureux. Il faudrait que je les remercie pour ça.

Je demande un plus grand geste pour un mois d’immobilisation de l'ordinateur NEUF plus tout le temps passé avec le service après vente.
On me propose 50 euros en bons d’achat chez DELL. Autrement dit, mon argent retournera chez eux… Mais bon, je souhaite avoir une plus grande compensation et après bien des appels et échange de mails j’ai réussis à avoir 150€ de bons d’achat. Mais en 3 fois 50€ de bon d’achat cumulable. Donc passer 3 fois à la caisse et payer 3 fois des frais de ports !!

Bon gré mal gré j’obtempere.

Plus tard j’ai voulu commander un chargeur avec un de ces fameux bons.
Après chose faite, je souhaite également commander une souris bluetooth et une batterie avec les deux bons restants.
Je me rends compte que la description de l’article est assez floue et me demande s’il y a le câble reliant le chargeur à la prise électrique murale. Me disant que ce sera rapide, je demande via chat. Impossible de me répondre. Je passe un coup de tel.
34 minutes après, 2 rappels, durant lesquelles je suis transférées du service client, au service technique, au service commercial, à l'accueil, à la réception, plusieurs fois, bien une 15aines de transfers. Après ce long périple je reçois enfin ma réponse. Oui il est inclus dedans.
Je m’aperçois aussi que je ne peux pas trouver la batterie sur le site DELL.FR. je leur en fait part. 20 minutes plus tard, 3 rappels, une demande via chat en parallele on m’apprend qu’ils n’en vendent pas sur leur site, et ils sont incapable de me dire ou je pourrais en acheter. Ils me disent d’envoyer un mail à une adresse pour la commander en ligne en signalant mon bon de réduction.

Après cela je décide donc de commander ma souris. Mais lorsque je veux payer, ils me disent bon de réduction déjà utilisé !! J’essaie le second qu’il me reste, idem !!

Sur les 150€ de geste commercial de DELL seulement 50 fonctionnement vraiment ? Alors que c'est un GESTE COMMERCIAL ? Ou autrement dit, un moyen pour Dell de s'excuser des problèmes déjà encourus ?!!

Je contacte Dell pour en savoir plus à ce sujet. Ils se contentent de répondre

“Les bons de réductions ne peuvent être renouvelés.
Le Support Technique n’offre pas de gestes commerciaux ou compensations, il s’agissait d’une action marketing pour promouvoir l’achat sur le Site www.dell.fr
Je regrette vivement de ne pouvoir donner suite a votre demande.”

Ce matin je reçois ma commande, mon fameux chargeur, et devinez quoi ? le fameux cable en question (celui la même que le “grand chef” m’a confirmé sa présence dans le kit, ainsi que deux autres personnes -qui eux n’étaient pas sûrs) n’est pas là !!

On peut voir la maitrise du sujet sur la vente de chargeur de l'ordinateur phare de DELL pour le grand publique par le staff...

Alors oui leur ordinateur sont sympas (quand ils fonctionnent) mais sérieusement n’achetez rien chez DELL. leur service après vente est horrible, catastrophique, moins efficace qu’une moule atrophiée dessechée sur la plage par 60° à l’ombre.

Que ce soit le chat, leur service téléphonique ou je suis sure de ne pas avoir de réponse, si j’en reçois elles sont fausses, ou par mail ou ils ne font que se renvoyer la patate chaude.

Je souhaitais changer de Mac car je préférais Windows, mais pour le même prix d’ordinateur, au moins j’avais un service après vente d’assez bonne qualité, ce qui est encore heureux quand on dépense 1600€ chez eux…

Ce sont vraiment des incapables, qui ne méritent pas que l’on dépense chez eux. Fuyez loin, tres loin de DELL.


August 1, 2016, 7:08 am

What's up with the Keyboard on this model? The "Enter" key is not supposed to be like that! Are there 2 different versions of the keyboard? I don't like this layout.

James Gil

August 9, 2016, 5:40 pm

Glad that this was brought up. I was really tempted to get one before the ghosting issue ruined it for me : (

The ultimate windows laptop hunt continues...


December 13, 2016, 5:39 pm

I've had this laptop for 6 months now. It has a really appealing design, the feel is solid and performance is good. However, I've had a couple problems and Dell customer service is not what it used to be. 1) the power adaptor stopped having a solid fit into the laptop within the first month. This has caused the power to go on and off while plugged in, and sometimes it doesn't charge when plugged in. After a while, I found that there are four very slender pins in the jack, one was bent and broken. Even though the laptop was in warranty, Dell wouldn't cover. "Customer Induced damage". 2) Heat issues as mentioned in other comments here. Power management is less than ideal. Buggy in fact. 3) This laptop is not Linux friendly.
Perhaps one of the lower end models would be more robust. Although I bought an Inspiron at the same time and the screen can't take any torque as the bezel pops right off. Latitude? Overall solid feel in these new designs, but it is deceptive as the quality is not there.


December 22, 2016, 11:52 am

Re-sale value. In a few years when you want to upgrade you will get a much higher re-sale price for your Macbook. This and the battery life make Macbook the best.

Jeff Schwisow

January 10, 2017, 4:25 am

Just to add to the knowledge base out there...I bought a Dell XPS 15 9550 (with 4K touch screen) about 8 months ago. Although I'm generally happy with most functionality (track pad is problematic) and performance (battery life is short of advertised) I have had one major ongoing issue that Dell is incapable of solving. Utilising an external display creates a whole range of buggy problems including: poor monitor resolution, oddly sized text and desktop icons, and splitting the desktop icons between the 2 displays when in extended display mode. However, the most disturbing problem is that periodically, sometimes for no apparent operational reason, the display on the laptop goes black...it still functions (based on display functional testing) but it simply doesn't display. This continues to be the case when the computer is restarted (both soft and hard re-boot), when disconnected from the external monitor and when connected to different display peripherals (e.g., data projector).

I suppose to their credit, Dell have responded to my service requests (under warranty) by sending out a service technician. However, the only mode of service they seem to understand is part replacement. They do no physical diagnostics to try to ascertain the source of the problem - only the online testing they do that generally tells them that they don't know what the problem is. As a result they have replaced my motherboard twice and my display twice...to no avail as the laptop display has just gone black again. Now the computer savey out there would recognise pretty quickly that these symptoms point to a software rather than hardware problem and that continuing to implement the same fix while expecting a different result is insane, indeed. Not my friends at Dell which treat every service request as if it were the first one ever logged and that no prior service history exists. Arrgh!

Certainly this laptop has gotten a number of great reviews and is generally rated near the top of the laptop heap, but I would recommend the buyer be very wary of a Dell product. IF you do experience problems, the likelihood that they will get solved by Dell technical support is extremely low.

For my part, since this is a business laptop that I have to rely on to go to my clients' offices, I can't afford this level of uncertainty regarding performance and reliability. So I will be chocking this Dell experience up to a technology failure. I'll be getting rid of the XPS15 and go in search of an alternate manufacturer.

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